Ah the five stages of grief, I am told that we all go though them. Often we don’t want to talk about them or even acknowledge them, but I do. As I go through them I want to document them and date them if I can.
1. Denial and Shock
The “shock” stage, it is what our brain or body does to us so we can better handle the overwhelming flood of emotions that want to come at you. I wanted nothing more than to be alone at this time.
- When we were told that it was an “emergency” the whole way there I told myself, “it is nothing, it will be ok”.
- When I heard the doctors say “やめちゃう” (unfortunately we will quit) I just kept repeating in my head “no no no no”
- We asked “Is this really happening” as our daughter died in our arms
- When they handed us our dieing daughter, the world disappeared I couldn’t hear or see anything in the NICU except my little family.
- In my recovery room, my husband and I just sat for what felt like hours staring off into space.
- Everything felt surreal. I could see the everyday activities outside my window but I didn’t feel like I was part of that world.
- My door remained closed for the rest of my stay most of my time was spent just sitting on the edge of my bed staring out the window. Several times nurses came in to check up on me during the night and told me I should “rest” or lay down. I just sat. I felt empty and that was the way I wanted to feel.
- I actually told my mom to come right away because we wanted to be alone.
- The shower became a place of refuge and a place to just cry it out.
“As the masking effects of denial and isolation begin to wear, reality and its pain re-emerge. We are not ready. The intense emotion is deflected from our vulnerable core, redirected and expressed instead as anger.”
I see no point in getting angry, but even I was not exempt from this stage.
- I was angry at my first doctor for not realizing what was wrong with my placenta.
- I was angry at the NICU staff. Amazing as they were they didn’t have steady enough hands to avoid scratching Emi when they changed her tubes.
- I was angry at the doctor who kept referring to “accident” as an “incident” when quite clearly it was an accident.
- I was angry at life for being unfair. Everyone else around me got their bundles of joy.
- One day I just wanted to scream out of anger.
- I was angry at my friend for still having a healthy pregnancy.
- I was angry that I had a c-section for nothing.
- I was angry that I would even consider that my c-section was for nothing.
- I was angry that I was now limited to only two more chances at having a baby.
- I was angry that I was denied a natural birth.
- I was angry at my body for betraying me after years of being nothing but strong.
- I was angry that I would never experience all the firsts with Emi, angry that all the dreams and hopes I had for her would never have a chance of happening. Many times I still am.
- I still get angry when I see a parent not appreciating their children or ignoring them. I want to tell them “Tomorrow is not promised”
Sometimes I still get “angry” but it manifests itself in different ways, such as envy, jealousy, and disappointment. I felt angry about many things, but thankfully none of the angry feelings lingered. It was unfair to be angry at those things or those people, many who were people I came to trust, people who worked hard, who did their best and who grieved with me.
3. Bargaining and Talking
To me this stage is more like the “regrets” stage for me.
- If only we had had spent more time with Emi.
- If only I touched her more.
- If only I waited one day more before accepting the c section in order to allow Emi’s lungs to grow
- If only I asked if steroid shots were used in Japan like they are used in America.
- If only I wasn’t so trusting of my first doctor.
- If only I went to the big hospital first.
- If only I waited a month more to get pregnant/ If only I got pregnant a month sooner.
- If only I was in Canada/USA.
I think this stage is also the “reasoning” stage
- Emi was going to die in the womb, at least I got to see her before she passed. It was her “fate” to die.
- Emi was not even suppose make it to world, I’m lucky she made any appearance.
- This pregnancy was the pregnancy where everything went wrong so that the odds are in my favor in the next pregnancy. Emi was the “sacrifice” (which takes me back to the anger. Angry for even thinking Emi was a sacrifice.)
- Somebody needs to be the statistic.
- My tragedy was needed so that the doctors could further study my condition and hopefully help mothers in the future.
I don’t even know how to categorize list this stage. I just know that it is there and it is all encompassing. I just hope that I do not go deep into it that I can not get out on my own. I would say this perhaps is marked by all the times that I just break down crying out of the blue.
- Every time I write I cry, no matter how hard I try to remain strong.
- I heard a little child laughing, I loved the sound but then was reminded that I would not hear Emi’s laughter, I bet would have been beautiful.
- I may have another chance but I may not.
- Mother’s Day, I didn’t think it would be so rough. (May 11th, 2014)
- Seeing other mothers with their babies or children makes me smile and makes me cry.
- Random songs make me cry.
- I lost weight. I gained weight. Emotional abstinence of food. Emotional eating.
I don’t think I am fully there yet but once I am I can then finally return to leading a full life again. I am told some people don’t ever reach this stage, I refuse to believe I will be one of them. I will conquer this and Emi’s memory will bring smiles instead of tears, just give me time.
June 23rd, 2014 – Today I unexpectedly felt OK. Often I would think about a future child and about the child we lost. I was living in the future and in the past. But today, I felt like I was living in the present. Suddenly a future pregnancy felt possible, I was no longer wishing It was the new year so that we could try again, I was no longer thinking “what if” I was no longer feeling guilt for what happened. I felt OK. Actually I felt more than ok, I felt alive, I felt like I was living my life. I was going to work, I was hanging out with friends and my husband, we were laughing, planning having fun. Of course I still think of Emi and I still feel the pain of losing her, but I no longer feel crippled by it. The things I do now are no longer for the soul purpose of distracting myself and I was no longer trying to convince myself that “everything will be OK”, because now things were OK.
I still feel her loss, but I still feel like I can live again. Life will not be the same I know, but at least it will be life. Not living life is a disservice to Emi’s memory, I sense that now. I am glad that I finally feel like I can do this. I feel strangely free.